Freeway Service Patrol is aiding drivers, helping relieve congestion

CAMARILLO – A new service in Ventura County has already assisted hundreds of drivers experiencing vehicle trouble along portions of the 101 and 118 freeways.

The Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) program placed roaming tow trucks along three segments of the freeways, with the goal of quickly getting disabled vehicles moving again at no cost to the drivers.

The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) launched the program in March 2021, in partnership with Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol.

In the first five months of the program, FSP drivers responded to more than 1,400 incidents, from flat tires and mechanical issues to vehicles that had run out of gas.

“When a motorist is stranded on the freeway, it can be a very stressful and even dangerous situation. The courteous and helpful FSP drivers are trained to get motorists quickly back underway and out of harm’s way, while also helping to alleviate the roadway congestion that can result from vehicles on the shoulder or in traffic lanes,” said Amanda Fagan, VCTC’s Director of Planning and Sustainability.

On U.S.-101, FSP trucks patrol from the Ventura County/Los Angeles County line to Camarillo Springs Road, and from Camarillo Springs Road to Rice Avenue. On CA-118, FSP covers the area between CA-23 and the Ventura County/Los Angeles County line (Rocky Peak).

FSP trucks operate Monday through Friday during peak commute hours – from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. – when freeway traffic is heaviest. The goal of FSP is to help keep traffic moving by providing quick responses and repairs to disabled vehicles, thus reducing congestion and emissions from idling vehicles. The service also helps to prevent secondary accidents caused by quickly removing disabled vehicles from traffic lanes or roadway shoulders.

If a vehicle can’t be repaired within about 10 minutes, it will be towed to a safe location off the freeway, where the driver can call for further help.

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Platinum Tow & Transport Inc. of Camarillo is the tow truck contractor for the program.

Sitting at the wheel of large, blue and white tow trucks bearing the FSP and VCTC logos, drivers roam up and down the highway, keeping an eye out for vehicles that appear to be disabled. Not every response requires assistance, however. On some occasions, for instance, motorists have just pulled over to make a phone call, in which case FSP drivers recommend a safer location to stop.

Responses to the program have been overwhelmingly positive, with nearly all customers rating the service as “excellent” in a voluntary customer assist survey collected by VCTC.

One customer reported receiving help after a piece of metal damaged the tire of their vehicle.

“Within minutes, FSP was able to help replace the tire and made it very easy to get back on the road,” the driver wrote.